“Practice makes perfect.”
These words couldn’t ring truer for preparing a child to become a writer. Writing isn’t an acquired skill; it is learned and practiced long before pencil is actually placed in hand. Here are some great ideas to get your preschooler ready to write – and still have a great time doing it!
- Take a ziplock baggie and place about 1/4 cup of hair gel inside. Seal the bag, squeezing out all the excess air (depending on the size of bag, you might need more or less gel, and colored gel works better). Place the sealed baggie on a flat surface and use as a writing “tablet”. Children can draw and doodle in the gel, wiping their “slate” clean by simply smoothing out the gel. Place the gel baggie over a piece of paper with squiggle lines or simple shapes and have the child “trace” the shape with his or her finger. This can even be used with large letters written on paper as well.
- Spread sand on a cookie sheet or other edged pan. Have children use this surface as a writing surface. It can be easily “erased” as well. Use fingers as well as other items, such as straws, unsharpened pencils, pasta and even small cars to “write”.
- Place a dollop of shaving cream on a table. Have the child spread the shaving cream out and then use it as a writing surface. Children can “erase” by simply covering their marks with more shaving cream. (I use this method at the end of the day, and the shaving cream helps “clean” my tables!) To make it more interesting, add a drop or two of watercolor. Children can make shapes, squiggles, pictures or even write letters.
- As children become more intentional in their strokes, give them several markers or crayons. Have them trace the same shape over and over with different colors. These shapes can be arcs, circles, lines, zig-zags, or even letters. My class calls this “rainbow writing”.
- As a culminating activity as we learn our letters, I give each child an unbaked breadstick (Pillsbury makes a good one, as does my generic store-brand). Children then form their breadsticks into either their favorite letter or the first letter of their name. Bake and eat!